New Delhi, Oct. 9: France is likely to throw open to Indian scholars a scheme that allows them to pursue research for PhDs, funded jointly by academic institutions and French industrial firms and designed to boost employment prospects.
The 32-year-old CIFRE scheme supported by the French National Association for Research and Technology was opened to Brazilian students earlier this year and is likely to be expanded soon for Indian scholars, French government officials said today.
Some 16,000 students in France have already benefited from the joint academia-industry scheme introduced in 1981 that allows Masters-degree holders to take PhD-level courses while working on industry-oriented projects, the officials said.
“The details of the scheme for students from India are currently under discussion,” a senior official with the science department of the French embassy here said.
The CIFRE PhD scheme is among new initiatives Indian and French officials are hoping to announce at an India-France technology summit called by the two governments and the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) here on October 23 and 24.
India’s science and technology ministry and Inria, a French public institution engaged in computational sciences, also hope to sign a pact during the two-day summit for joint research on supercomputing, among other areas.
The summit will seek to expand collaborative research and technology projects between the two countries in several thematic areas — cities, energy, and climate change, biotechnology, aerospace and aeronautics, and chemicals and materials. It will provide opportunities to Indian and French public and private sector enterprises to showcase innovations.
A French official said the CIFRE PhD scheme is similar to the Prime Minister’s Fellowship Scheme for Doctoral Research launched last year by India’s department of science and technology and the CII. The Prime Minister’s scheme offers up to 100 students double scholarships to work on industry-relevant projects each year.
Both schemes are intended to improve the employment prospects of PhD-holders amid long-standing concerns that traditional PhD programmes in academic institutions may not prepare students for jobs in the industry.
Ninety per cent of scholars with the CIFRE scheme have found employment within six months of completing their PhDs, and 37 per cent remain in the same company where they had pursued their doctoral degrees.
While details of the CIFRE-India link are yet to be determined, officials say, one option is the model with Brazil. Ten Brazilian students will join the CIFRE scheme in 2013, but the number is expected to rise to 30 each year.